By STEVE SPINKS
WHEN Daniel Wagon runs onto Lismore's Oakes Oval tonight with the Parramatta Eels for the National Rugby League trial match against Cronulla he's entitled to feel a bit nostalgic.
After all, it won't be the first time the Eels utility star has graced Oakes Oval - the last time he played here however, he lost.
"Yeah, I lived in Yamba and played with Lower Clarence Under-18s for a year," Wagon told The Northern Star.
"I played against Marist (Brothers) there and I had to play a semi-final match there as well."
In fact he had to play the semi-final twice.
In the first encounter Lower Clarence and Casino drew and the semi had to replayed at Oakes Oval on the following Tuesday.
"It was a close game again," Wagon recalled.
"But we lost."
Originally from Brisbane, Wagon moved to Yamba to live with his grandfather.
His uncle, David McGregor, still lives in the seaside village.
After his season with Lower Clarence in 1994, Wagon moved to Sydney to take up a playing career with St George. He later moved to the Eels.
So does the 28-year-old have any plans to return to Yamba to captain-coach the Lower Clarence Magpies?
"Maybe one day," Wagon chuckled.
"I'm definitely not likely to move back there in the next five years.
"But I'd like to come back one day."
The Queensland State of Origin representative is looking forward to tonight's trial with the Sharks.
"The ground looks good and I here there's going to be a big crowd," Wagon said.
He's also excited by Parramatta's high-profile new signings of Mark Riddell (hooker), PJ Marsh (halfback), Glenn Morrison (second-row) and Timana Tahu (wing).
"They've been good," he said.
"It's the first time in the last few years that we've bought regular first graders."
The Eels will start as favourite for the trial as they are playing all of their regular first grade stars except for representative second-rower Nathan Hindmarsh, who is injured.
The Sharks, on the other hand, have named a squad minus most of their first grade stars.
Perhaps this time round, Wagon's memories of Oakes Oval will have a better ending.